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COMMONS AMENDMENT

199Page 35, line 26, at end insert--
Page 35, line 26, at end insert--
("( ) In exercising its functions the Standards Board for England must have regard to the need to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and co-opted members of relevant authorities in England.")

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 199.

I am content to take noble Lords through each of the amendments contained in this large group. However, many of them are technical. It may be more helpful to the House if I explain the main purpose of the amendments. During the Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, drew our attention to the fact that the scope and arrangements for the standards board had changed significantly since the publication of the draft Bill. Because of these changes, the Government believed that it would be helpful to provide a broad purpose to guide and inform the way in which the board performs its various functions. Therefore, Amendment No. 199 introduces a general duty to,


    "have regard to the need to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and co-opted members of relevant authorities".

Amendment No. 204 and others in this group respond to concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and put beyond doubt the ESO's powers to investigate former members of relevant authorities. Similar provision has also been made for Wales. We picked up another of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, during Report. Amendment No. 206 makes clear that if the standards board considers an allegation should not be investigated it should take reasonable steps to inform in writing the person who made the allegation of the decision and the reasons for it. Amendment No. 253 makes similar provision for Wales. We have also made various amendments to Schedule 3 dealing with the status and general powers of the standards board.

I again thank noble Lords who have contributed from their knowledge to make the Bill more effective. I commend the amendment to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 199.--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

200Page 35, line 29, leave out ("section 55") and insert ("this Part")
201Page 35, line 30, leave out ("in relation") and insert ("and police authorities in Wales on matters relating")

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202Page 35, line 31, leave out second ("the")
203Page 35, line 32, after ("authorities,") insert--
("( ) may issue guidance to relevant authorities in England and police authorities in Wales in relation to the qualifications or experience which monitoring officers should possess,")
204Clause 54, page 35, line 37, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
205Page 35, line 41, after ("to") insert ("one of")
206Page 35, line 42, at end insert--
("( ) If the Standards Boards for England considers that a written allegation under subsection (1) should not be investigated, it must take reasonable steps to give written notification to the person who made the allegation of the decision and the reasons for the decision.")
207Clause 55, page 36, line 6, after ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
208Page 36, line 25, at end insert--
("(5) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in England, the reference in subsection (4)(c) to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as a reference either to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned or to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority (and accordingly an ethical standards officer who reaches a finding under subsection (4)(c) must decide to which of those monitoring officers to refer the matters concerned).")
209Clause 56, page 36, line 27, leave out subsection (1)
210Page 36, line 36, at end insert--
("( ) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in England, an ethical standards officer may, if he thinks it more appropriate than making such a reference as is mentioned in subsection (3)(b), refer the matters which are the subject of the investigation to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority.")
211Page 36, line 38, at end insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
212Page 36, line 41, leave out ("or sub-committee") and insert ("sub-committee, joint committee or joint sub-committee")
213Page 37, line 5, at end insert ("or any breach falling within paragraph 3(2A) of that Schedule")
214Clause 57, page 37, line 12, leave out ("authority's") and insert ("relevant authority concerned's")
215Page 37, line 21, leave out ("that authority") and insert ("the relevant authority concerned")
216Page 37, line 22, at end insert--
("(5) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in England, any reference in subsection (4) to the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as including a reference to that other relevant authority.")
217Clause 58, page 37, line 27, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
218Page 37, line 42, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member")
219Page 38, line 2, leave out ("written")
220Page 38, line 31, leave out ("this section") and insert ("subsection (2) or (4)")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 200 to 220.

24 Jul 2000 : Column 78

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 200 to 220.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

221Clause 59, page 38, line 35, at end insert ("57 or")
222Page 38, line 39, after ("officer,") insert ("the Commission for Local Administration in Wales,")
223Page 38, line 40, leave out ("a tribunal drawn from") and insert ("the president, deputy president or any tribunal of")
224Page 39, line 15, after ("information") insert ("or a document")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 221 to 224. These amendments make amendments to Clause 59, which deals with the circumstances in which an ethical standards officer can disclose information. They are relatively straightforward changes which clarify the situation.

Amendment No. 225 deals with the creation of a criminal offence where an ethical standards officer discloses information and the Secretary of State or local authority has issued a notice that it would be against the public interest for the information in question to be disclosed. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has tabled Amendment No. 225A. I have had some discussions with the noble Baroness and others. With the leave of the House, it is perhaps more appropriate to allow the noble Baroness to speak to her amendment before I respond.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 221 to 224.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

225Page 39, line 15, at end insert ("or (3)")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 225.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 225.--(Lord Whitty.)

MOTION MOVED ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS AMENDMENT NO. 225

225ABaroness Hamwee rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their amendment, leave out "agree" and insert "disagree".

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 225A. It seems to us an offence too far. As the Minister explained, it would make an offence under Clause 59(4) the disclosure of a notice in the circumstances set out in subsection (3).

When the Bill left this House an ethical standards officer who disclosed information would commit an offence under Clause 59(4), facing up to two years' imprisonment. An amendment in the Commons

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broadened this offence to any other person. My amendment rejects the broadening of the offence. I beg to move.

Moved, That Amendment No. 225A, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 225, be agreed to.--(Baroness Hamwee.)


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